The world is ending! But only a little.
The world is ending! So I bought myself a bouquet of flowers.
Hold up?! What?
In every town, along any back road, cloistered away from the prying eyes of the post-2012 public, are the people who were actually ready for Covid-19. Finally. All those ten-pound cans of green beans and beef stew have a purpose and I'm sure Carl would love to tell us about it around mouthfuls of salted meat. The rest of us not curled around bulk cans of survival foods are doing what we do, waiting for this to come to a close.
Life is absolutely different on so many fronts. Some are juggling homeschooling their kids in the wake of state shutdowns. We're worrying about whether there will still be paychecks while this drags out, or if our jobs will still be waiting for us on the other side. Even running to the store is complicated. We're living in a world where every cough suddenly signals a potential threat and we run our very limited errands while working out complex ratios of distances times held breath divided by objectives to be completed and work out the percentage of our dwindling hand sanitizer it'll require. The government just announced it's going to shell out another two trillion dollars to save the economy. Trillion. It's such a ludicrous number Pelosi had to suggest we entirely digitize those payout funds to be doled out to the masses. We've moved beyond monopoly money, guys. We have loved ones we can't protect as they go about their daily lives apart from us. There are college terms in jeopardy and careers on the line. Everything feels out of control, I know.
I didn't escape. I typically go nonstop. I'm a single mom now. A junior in the middle of a double bachelor degree. Homeschooling my own children. Working on top of it all- until all this. I have been forced to slow down. Be home. Shelter in place.
So. I focus on my writing career. Teach my teenager how to do linear equations and convince my youngest he really can use punctuation when he writes. We've been bouncing off these four walls since Sunday when the lockdown went into effect. And it is all perfectly, absolutely, wonderful.
This is potentially the greatest cultural blessing we've been handed in a couple generations. I'll chase that with the caveat that we shouldn't overlook those of us who have faced serious suffering, loss, discomfort, fear, or death. And I in no way intend to make light of that, my heart and prayers are with those people. And to those forced to continue working in environments that seem less safe than a month ago. The rest of us need to step back and look at what's happening here. Let me point it out to you, because we can shift our eyes to all the potential 'what if' and 'here it comes' scenarios. Or we can look here and now and find some rest. I've seen a marked change in the last two weeks. Pleas for social distancing, school closures, sports cancelations... they all lead to something I haven't seen in probably thirty years.
The precious core of our culture is knitting the raw edges of itself together, and maybe we can focus on allowing it to repair and grow. Everywhere I look I see parents out with kids. Children in yards playing. Walks on sidewalks. Dogs on leashes. Kids on bikes. I hear stories and posts about dinner time meals around the table because everyone's home. Mom's watching their children grow and learn and develop. We're forced to slow down in this time- and it's daunting for some of us. To focus on the homes we share with these people we love. It's scary out there, but I'm asking you to enjoy this time. Remember it. Turn the news off, this wave will wash over us without pundits telling us about it. Put down your phone- it'll alert you to emergencies without you staring at it nonstop. Look up, friends. Write a letter to your nanna. To your sister in law. Draw a picture with your toddler. Build a pillow fort in the living room. Tell a story. Listen to one.
I had to remember the wisdom of my Grandmother because I'm not one to thrive in the mundane and sweet holy Lord and Savior it's really boring right now. The cycle of everyday sameness is maddening. She spent her years showing me how beautiful it really can be to order your day around the benign. Running a farm and raising children, keeping a husband running through his many jobs, milking cows, planting crops, baking pies, sewing play costumes. It was her who taught me to love cut flowers. I made it a point since the divorce to add a 4 dollar bunch of Aldi flowers to my biweekly grocery shopping. Just because. They make me happy.
As I was hitting the grocery stocking up just enough to be able to stay in for a couple of weeks with the kids I almost didn't buy the flowers. We've been a little strapped lately and I had fallen out of habit with them. But there I was in Walmart staring at some carnations on sale for 2.49 and some lillies for 4 bucks. People are ligit arguing over toilet paper and peanut butter and I'm at the cooler staring at flowers. I just didn't want to participate anymore. In the frantic insanity of events I can't control. I've lived the last 16 years afraid, strapped, overwhelmed and tired. I quit that a while back. And I will give no ground to it. You shouldn't either!
I bought the darn flowers.
I stood in line with red-eyed, frazzled, public displays of fear-fueled anger holding a bunch of flowers. And canned tuna. Them with their overflowing carts of panic purchases they're never gonna actually fully consume. But you know what? It's been five days, they still look gorgeous, and we're still okay.
So, enjoy this time. Make that breakfast a little bit more special- you're sharing it with the most important people. Even if it's just you, make the plate pretty. Dust the knickknacks because you can- they're yours and you have them to enjoy them. Remember their stories. Look into your kids' eyes when they talk to you for the fiftieth time today, you're building memories with them- their little years are finite and fleeting. Hug the one you're with, practicing loving them. Call a relative or a friend and say hi. Hear their voice, share yours. Most of all enjoy the quiet, the still. Remember yourself and how it was to be little and full of wonder and happiness. Make the small things special.
I decided to have fun making and decorating cookies. Why not? Making dough is cheap and easy- Amazon still delivers- and its fun. I'm making my kids practice eating a meal at the table like a normal family, every day. Because it's good. We pulled out the cheap projector we had and rigged up a theater in our sitting room for nightly movies. We'll remember, the kids will remember, what we focus on during this time, so make it good.
It's going to be okay. Things might change and we might face some crappy economic times. We can adapt to what comes, it's good for us to. But today has enough worry of its own, and I'm busy making each day enjoyable. Hang in there!